Street Fighter 6 World Tour is part Pokémon, part Yakuza, and after several hours of hands-on time with the single-player mode, Alan Wen is all for it.
As I’ve previously written, Street Fighter 6 is going to be an absolute belter of a competitive fighting game. But one area that wasn’t as clear cut was what folks who enjoy a meaty single player experience will get out of it.
Historically, the genre has struggled to answer this. Solo campaigns tend to boil down to a set of cutscenes that attempt to string together the semblance of a plot in between some fairly rote fights. Or they’ve given us the tried-and-true old-school arcade mode which can be wrapped up in less than an hour. Incidentally, these are what Street Fighter V had to offer – though astonishingly, not at launch.
Admittedly, hardcore fans who just want to hit the ranked lobbies may not be bothered about single-player content. But for the wider market that Capcom also has to appeal to, or fans of the world and characters of Street Fighter, it’s essential to provide something substantial to justify a full-price release. This is especially the case with the looming threat of free-to-play rivals like MultiVersus and Riot Games’ Project L on the horizon.
Street Fighter 6’s Fighting Ground does have a lot of the fundamentals you’d expect from a fighting game, including arcade mode, a deep robust training mode and character guide, as well as of course multiplayer components, but it’s the World Tour mode that really puts naysayers to bed. It’s practically another game in its own right, an open-world action RPG where you create your own avatar and guide them on their rise to become a world warrior.
As a new recruit to a security company in Metro City called Buckler Services, you get to create your protagonist using a detailed character creator, so you’re free to have an avatar as representative of you or as cursed as your imagination will take you, as well as choices over gender and body types. It’s also possible to save your creations and change your appearance at a beauty parlour for a small in-game fee, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck as a ‘joke’ avatar.
As the title implies, World Tour sees you exploring locations from all over the world as you seek to become stronger and learn from series veterans, such as your coach Luke, as well as cop-turned-kung fu-teacher Chun Li. With that in mind, it plays much like you expect from a 3D third-person open-world game. It can be played comfortably with a standard controller, while fights are set to the Modern setting – face buttons for light, medium, heavy attacks, and a Super Smash Bros-style special attack button (classic controls is fortunately also an option shortly after the intro).
Fight stick players have also been catered for, as when you’re not fighting, you can hold down a button and then use four other buttons to move the camera as you explore the 3D world. It takes some getting used to, but it’s a decent compromise over having to awkwardly resync between controllers, especially as entering fights in the world can happen quite suddenly.
There’s something of a wholesome Pokémon vibe to the campaign – not because you’re rounding up fighters to do the work for you, mind. Maybe it’s partly Luke giving you the cheesy mentor spiel about searching for true strength, or how you’re introduced to a rival student called Bosch who also seems to have an important role to play throughout the campaign. But really it’s how you can challenge fellow denizens of Metro City to a friendly bout: their way of shaking hands is a punch to the face.
During these bouts, the view snaps back to a 2D plane and it’s just like a normal Street Fighter match, as nearby NPCs become spectators. There’s some notable differences, of course. Your health gauge isn’t quite as big as during a normal fight because you’re basically leveling up a character in an RPG. But each fight also comes with mini objectives that yield bonus XP, such as using a special move or a throw a certain number of times.
You’ll also find early on that you’re lacking the same skills as you might expect compared to playing the normal game, as you’re still a rookie. For instance, although you have a bit of a Drive gauge, you can’t initially use Drive parry or Drive impact. Your fighting style, meanwhile, is based on Luke’s, but you’ve also only got a couple of his special moves you can actually use.
As well as unlocking more moves and increasing your overall stats, you’ll also unlock move slots so that you can customise your movesets with other fighters that take you under their wing. So in the early hours, I’ve already got my avatar using a mixture of Luke and Chun Li’s moves. I can envision by the end you’ll have your own custom ultimate fighter combining multiple fighting styles, which can even be used for avatar-specific fights against other players in the online Battle Hub mode.
Of course, getting there takes time, which means getting into a lot of fights to get stronger. But where some might balk at the grind, an RPG using Street Fighter’s best-in-class fighting mechanics is surely the best kind of grind. Because fights are skill-based, it means you can feasibly take on a higher level NPC marked in red if you’re feeling up to it. Being an RPG however, you can go into a menu at any time to use items for healing or gain temporary buffs. That said, I managed to take down a fighter more than double my level with little more than just constantly grabbing them the second they got back up, so an opponent’s level may not necessarily be indicative of their skill or difficulty.
It’s not all polite fights. As you explore New York-inspired Metro City, there are also gangs who can be identified by the bizarre cardboard boxes they wear over their heads. They’ll often try to jump you, and you might even find yourself facing up to three fighters on screen at once. That’s right: World Tour is basically an even wackier version of Yakuza. You can also get the jump on them with Master Actions as your bond increases with a fighter, and then use these as shortcuts in the same way you use emotes. Besides using these to get a pre-emptive attack on enemies, they can also be used to break crates and other objects that might be blocking your path, or even for traversal, such as using a spinning bird kick to get across a rooftop.
There’s no greater or funnier use of Master Actions, however, than to trigger a fight with an NPC, because why ask for a fight verbally when you can just uppercut them from behind? Assaulting innocent bystanders is just how things roll in Metro City, obviously.
Even with my first couple of hours in Metro City, there’s already so much to explore, ladders on the side of buildings to climb up, or item chests tucked away in an alley. To continue the Yakuza parallels, you’ll also find plenty of fun mini-games to distract you. One reward I picked up from one of my fights was a plane ticket, hinting at all the other cities that await us on this World Tour. If you weren’t convinced before, you better believe Street Fighter 6 is the full, premium package.
Street Fighter 6 releases on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, PC on 2 June.